While most of us see Bonfire Night as all about the oohs, aahs and sticky toffee apples, for some towns in the UK the 5th November is all about Guy Fawkes and his legendary Gunpowder Plot. Starting from Saturday 1st November, there are going to be some spectacular firework displays exploding across the country, and if you’re trying to find the most impressive one, look no further…
Battle, East Sussex
Saturday 1 November 2014
Bonfire Night in Battle kicks off with the Torchlit Parade at 6.30. Expect burning torches and marching bands parading from the market square through the High Street. The parade is an old Sussex tradition that’s been going for 400 years and anyone who has pre-registered with the Battle Bonfire Boyes can participate. The Battle Juniors take the lead, and the Guy cart follows with costumed members from Eastbourne, Lindfield and some Rumpledrumskins bringing up the rear. About 1,066 torch bearers make their way up to Senlac Hill and the battlefield where William defeated Harold in 1066. Aside from the fireworks and bonfire, there’s also the mildly morbid tradition of burning an effigy of a celebrity or famous politician. Previously vicitms have included Sarah Palin, Tony Blair and Punch & Judy. Watch out for the Battel Boyes burning small bunches of flowers, a tribute to the Battel Boyes of days gone by.
More info: Visit 1066 Country has more details about Battle’s bonfire history.
Getting there: 1 hour and 20 minutes from London by train or 15 minutes from Hastings.
Accommodation: Find accommodation in Hastings
Lewes, East Sussex
Wednesday 5 November 2014
Home to seven Bonfire societies, Lewes is home to the most famous Guy Fawkes Night in the UK. Each society organize their own processions on the 5th November through different parts of the town making their way to various bonfire sites. The event is quirky to say the least; expect costumes ranging from stripey jumpers and smugglers hats to Native American Indians. With so many processions and huge crowds, timing can be difficult but each society aims to light their bonfires and start the firework displays at 9:30pm. You can pick up a programme on arrival, but the United Grand gets started at about 7:40pm. Be sure to arrive early! The entire event can get very crowded, think London underground during rush hour…faint-hearted crowd-phobes are advised to go elsewhere…
More info: Lewis Bonfire Celebrations
Getting there: Trains from London take approximately 1 hour and 30 mins.
Accommodation: St Kipps is a Brighton hostel close to the station where you can catch a special Lewes train service running on Bonfire Night. Dorm and private rooms from €17.96pppn
Leeds Castle, Kent
Saturday 8 & Sunday 9 November 2014
Of all the firework displays in Kent, it’s hard to imagine a more picturesque setting than Leeds Castle. The fireworks are reflected beautifully in the surrounding water making the show feels twice as big. This year, the theme is ‘Go Wild’, with a pyrotechnic show inspired by various animals and moving images. It all kicks off at 5:30pm and if you’re lucky, you might spot the black swans patrolling the moat – descendants of the eight pairs given to Winston Churchill after WWII.
More info: Leeds Castle Website
Getting there: Trains from London Victoria arrive in nearby Bearsted in under 1hr. A shuttle bus costing £5 return will be operating for ticketholders.
Accommodation: Make a weekend of it and stay in historic Canterbury, about 20 miles from the castle. You can find dormitory rooms in Canterbury hostels from £15.39pppn.
Battersea Park Fireworks
With free entry to children under 10, this is a great event to be enjoyed by the whole family.
Admission £10, gates open at 6pm and fireworks at 8pm
Pulls a big crowd on the South London circuit. Licensed bar and funfair.
Admission is free but they are desperate for donations. Fireworks begin at 8pm
Expect food stalls, funfair rides and a mini-firework display for kids.
Admission £6 in advance and fireworks start at 7.15pm
Richmond Family Fireworks Display
Probably the only place where you can find mulled wine, winter Pimms and Michael Jackson’s greatest hits all in one place.
Admission £8 in advance or £10 on the gate
Lord Mayor’s Show
Saturday 8 November 2014
Missing out on Guy Fawkes Night 2014? Wait until the following week and the Lord Mayor’s Show in London promises a fantastic parade, followed by a fireworks display along the banks of the river Thames on Saturday 8 November – and it’s free! Read more on the London Lord Mayor’s Show.
An increasing number of events are now ticketed and the free firework displays are barely surviving on donations. Unfortunately Alexandra Palace Fireworks and Streatham Common are just two of the major Bonfire Night celebrations that have been cancelled in the past due to lack of funding. So whichever display you attend, please give generously to help guarantee a spectacular Guy Fawkes Night next year too.
Like this? Related posts:
- A Slice of London Pie: What is on in London
- Top 7 (Budget!) Things to do for Halloween in London
- The 10 Best Clubs in London
Thanks very much to the Leeds Castle Foundation and the Battel Bonfire Boyes grannybuttons, MatHampson, minor9th and SPakhrin for the images off Flickr! Please note, all images were suitable for use at the time of publication according to the Creative Commons license